The Abbotsford Arms, 2-4 Rose Street, Edinburgh.
Mr John Rigg. 1891.
John Rigg was born in Stirling in 1850, where he was educated. It was in the shadow of the historic castle that he first got a taste of the wine and spirit trade. However it was Glasgow where he gained practical training in the firm of Smith’s. The training he received was invaluable as he learned in the catering part of the business. Young John left Smith’s in Glasgow to go to Falkirk as a manager for Thomas Brown’s business. John again was very popular with his employers and was an extremely valued servant. Mr Brown parted with him with regret when he went as the proprietor of the Bluebell Hotel, Falkirk. But John was a pushing young man and ambitious, it was a dream of his to be a proprietor and a boniface himself. John became a popular purveyor and caterer, taking over the management of the Abbotsford Arms, 2-4 Rose Street, Edinburgh.
The building underwent considerable alterations and improvements at Mr Rigg’s hands, and celebrated the completion of the reconstruction of his establishment in September 1887, by a banquet, at which a number of the biggest names in town sat down to dinner. The Abbotsford marked an exceedingly interesting bit of old Edinburgh history. Those who step into the present tempting establishment would scarcely believe that it at one time was an old thatched house. Later still it reached the dignity of a Police office and Fire Station, and then its greatness was crowned by becoming the Abbotsford. The name is peculiarly applicable to the building, for almost across the street stands the monument of Sir Walter Scott, the literary hero of Scotland.
A large bar counter runs the entire length of the ground floor, and here, besides the usual refreshment common to a wine merchant’s establishment, the man who is in a hurry can enjoy a tasty snack of all the seasonable commodities of the market. One the ground floor, also, are a number of sitting-rooms, decked out and ornamented with pretty stained glass. The department upstairs offers the same complete accommodation which is to be found at the public bar. The main feature is a spacious dinning-room, capable of seating 100 people at dinner. Patent folding doors divide this room into two apartments, leaving one which is eminently suitable and convenient for small social and family parties. Besides the main hall or dinning-room, there are a number of cosy and tempting little snuggeries where friends can meet in comfort over a glass or a bit of luncheon.
A lift conveniently runs from the kitchen to the bar, and thence to the dinning-room upstairs. After dinner one can step into the adjoining smoking-room, where complete arrangements have been made for the enjoyment of a pipe or a cigar. The lavatories are in thorough keeping with the rest of the establishment. Mr Rigg’s popularity as a caterer stands absolutely without question. In the winter time it is no uncommon occurrence for him to have three or four suppers and dinners on his hands in one night, but his admirable facilities enable him easily to cope with them all.
Mr Rigg had the honour of supplying Her Majesty’s forces at Inchkeith with the good things of this life. In his spare time he played bowls and was a prominent member of several leading Masonic organisations, his mother lodge being Callander, no.588. John was a married man with five children but sadly lost one at an early age.
The Abbotsford Arms. 1891.